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Jeff Apologizes for Not Posting Lately and [Spoiler!] Reviews Some Stuff.

Jeff Lester

This week has flown by scarily fast. Almost a week since I last posted? The signing’s tomorrow? APE is this weekend? I’m like the low-budget version of Rip Van Winkle (and what an underwhelming twist on that classic story I would be: “Last thing I remember is falling asleep after bowling with dwarfs. And when I wake up…it’s one week later!”)

(By the way? If you go to the wikipedia entry for Rip Van Winkle–perhaps because you’re unsure if it was dwarfs or ghosts or giants or what Mr. Van Winkle was bowling with–you’ll see there’s a spoiler warning before the plot sypnosis. Ditto for “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” I’m agog at the concept, and will now spend the next thirty-six hours imagining what kind of angry email someone who’s had the story of Goldilocks and The Three Bears spoiled for them might write.)

Since chances are good it might be another few days before I turn up to post again, lemme cover some stuff I’ve been reading recently.

DEATH NOTE VOL. 11: Looks to be heading for a big wrap-up, but, to be honest, I’m so taken by Takeshi Obata’s art, I could probably read another ten volumes of this. There’s a sequence where Near breaks out a suitcase full of Kubrick figures which he labels and shoots with a popgun that had me appallingly rapt–appalling because I was just as engrossed by a similar scene several volumes ago where Near uses an evilly-grinning finger puppet just a volume or two ago. (Fans of that finger puppet will be heartened to know he makes a reappearance here in Chapter 96.) Also, even though it’s been used 9 million times, close-ups of Near’s owl-like eyes followed by close-ups of Light’s evil cat-eyes also fill me with a shocking amount of joy, no matter how often I see them.

There’s other strange delights here, stuff that works more or less because it shouldn’t work. For example, by this volume, the internal monologues of the characters trying to second-guess each other have grown so numerous they literally obscure the characters’ faces. It seems like the sort of imbalance in the verbal-visual blend that would have R.C. Harvey’s panties (girly-cartoon festooned panties, it should be noted) in a bunch, but it works here as a symbol of how the characters’ obsessions are obliterating any other trace of them. Similarly, the scenes where two characters who are being bugged are communicating by writing on a piece of paper while carrying on a conversation for the benefit of their listeners is the sort of thing I can’t imagine being done half as well in any other medium. Not only is it not boring, it’s genuinely riveting and a testament to the velocity of Death Note‘s story: you can’t help but be sucked in.

Anyway, a lot depends on how it wraps up, I would think, but if you’re a big fan of the series, I’m thinking you’ll also find this Very Good stuff.

KING CITY VOL. 1: I dug Graeme’s review of this but even though he gave this book a Very Good rating, I wasn’t particularly compelled to pick it up. Nonetheless,he lent it to me when I lent him Empowered so I figured it’d be worth a read, and holy shit, did I love it. King City is such a balls-out, energetic comic book achievement that I started making a list of all the people I wanted to get copies to even before I finished it. Only the fact that this is Graeme’s copy prevented me from trying to loan it out a half-dozen times this week.

The near-futuristic setting and the wandering approach to a genre story makes it feel a lot like early Paul Pope to me, but Graham is goofier, less eager to impress, than early Pope and a lot of the scenes have a winningly comedic tone to them (I think one of my favorites is when the protagonist Joe tries to draw the mystery woman who has led him and his buddy into events way behond their understanding, and all he can really recall is her butt). Nearly all of the panels of the book burst with strange new products, bad puns, graffitti, cartoony vigor. In some ways, it may be the most impressive non-debut (Graham’s got four other books under his belt) since Scott Pilgrim, and I highly recommend you start beating the bushes off your favorite Tokyopop dealer to find a copy. Very Good stuff that I really, really enjoyed. It charmed the hell out of me.

Okay, the wife is making hand gestures indicating we have to go to dinner now, so more later, hopefully tomorrow before I head to the store.

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